Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Excerpt: "Cliff Lee for Jorge Alfaro"

"It's not that Alfaro isn't a good prospect, it's that the path from prospect to championship-caliber player is far more fraught than fans seem to recognize. Alfaro is drawing ridiculous comparisons to Ivan Rodriguez. At 21, Rodriguez was in his third year as the Rangers' starter, so first of all, stop. But let's give Alfaro a path that looks pretty good. Let's say he moves up a level a year and is ready to be the team's starting catcher in 2017, at 24, and that he's actually good -- a two-win player as a rookie, worth three wins at 25, four at 26. That's awfully valuable, especially for a player making the minimum or a bit above in all those years. That would make Alfaro a success story -- nine wins in his first three seasons. Do you know how many catchers have been worth at least nine bWAR in their first four seasons (chosen to account for cups of coffee shorting players a "year") since Deadball II ended? Twenty-one. Once every two years or so, you get a catcher that good. How much better would you like Alfaro to be?"

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Note on Run Scoring

From Wednesday night around 10 p.m.:

"There have been just 45 runs scored today across seven full and five partial games. Record for a 15-game day is 79 (9/12/69), I believe."

By the end of the 7 p.m. starts, there had been just 40 runs scored in nine completed games. Some extra-inning contests would end up pushing up the day's total, but April 16 was still notable: the third-lowest scoring day of games with at least 15 games played. Here's the top five:

September 12, 1969 (79)
September 24, 2013 (82)
April 16, 2014 (83)
August 17, 1990 (84)
October 2, 2012 (87)

We didn't quite set the record Wednesday, but with three of the five lowest having come in the last eight months of baseball, it seems like we could be in for more challenges. A day of baseball in which we average just five runs, total, per game? Just more evidence that strikeouts are clogging the machine.

(h/t Cory Schwartz and MLBAM)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Excerpt: "State of the Game, Pt. 4"

"If you're going to fix the strikeout problem, one that is most prevalent in the late innings, this is where you start. The people who obsess over the pace of the game often make suggestions that target specialization and batter-by-batter baseball -- usually mandating that a pitcher must face multiple batters before he can be removed. That's a half-measure. The simplest, most elegant and most effective way to start fixing the strikeout problem is with one rule change:

"No pitcher can be removed once an inning has begun, absent evidence of an injury or at least six batters faced in the inning. A pitcher removed due to injury must immediately be placed on the 15-day disabled list."

Friday, April 11, 2014

Excerpt: "State of the Game, Pt. 3"

"For all the numbers I've thrown at you this week, we're dealing with something subjective: what should baseball look like? Is there some kind of balance between offense and defense, between pitchers and hitters, between three true outcomes and balls in play, that represents the best kind of ball? For too long, that balance has been expressed in terms of run environment. But as I've pointed out this week, the 4.17 R/G world of 2013 and the 4.12 R/G world of 1992 have nothing in common but the scoreboard. A simplistic reliance on run levels and home-run counts has led to the conclusion that somehow baseball is "normal" again, when what we actually have is the game from 15 years ago with strikeouts pumped up. Power, as measured in just about every way, hasn't changed all that much."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Excerpt: "State of the Game, Pt. 2"

"It is possible, and I'll admit this is rank speculation, that the increased velocity engineered into today's pitchers is breaking the dimensions of baseball. We've always known that hard-throwing pitchers have had an advantage; the ability to miss bats and generate strikeouts, a statistical proxy for velocity prior to the 2000s, was the best predictor of pitcher success and longevity. However, not everyone could be Nolan Ryan, and on balance, the pool of pitchers couldn't throw hard enough to upset the balance of the game. Now, they can."

Monday, April 7, 2014

Excerpt: "State of the Game, Pt. 1"

"Pitchers are dominating the strike zone like they never have before. After the 1968 season, in which MLB pitchers ran a 2.41 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 16% strikeout rate (on the heels of similar numbers in 1967), the game's powers that be made radical changes to the rules to restore order. Well, MLB pitchers have set records for K/UIBB in every one of the past three seasons, pushing the mark to 2.7 in 2013, with a 20% strikeout rate. Pitchers are dominating hitters today in the same way they were in 1968, with the difference being masked by the power modern hitters generate when they do make contact. Baseball today is basically baseball in 1968 plus weight training and equipment changes."